Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Seat With A View

I need to begin this post by thanking Carolyn Lanza and Richard Greisch, and I don't even have a clue who they are. But they helped make my Saturday morning a bit more pleasant.

I had some work done on my car over the weekend...a list of items slightly longer than a 20-minute oil change. (remember those tires I said I was going to buy? consider the economy stimulated.)

So rather than pass the time in the waiting area flipping through a stack of magazines or watching TV, or shopping on the north side of Manitowoc (is there any shopping left on the north side of Manitowoc??), I took a stroll up to Mariner's Trail along Lake Michigan, walked a couple hundred yards up the trail and found a bench with a sign that read, "Bench donated by Carolyn Lanza and Richard Greisch."

I sat down on the bench and stared out at the lake, a couple tiny sailboats dotting the murky brown water, thin strips of blue slicing through to give hope for a more attractive great lake in the coming summer months.

Bikers and runners and walkers made their way along the trail a few feet behind me, out to soak in much of the same view I was getting while I waited for my worn Kumhos to be replaced with Goodyear triple-treads.

A nun rode past on what looked to be an older style three- or five-speed bicycle, with sidebags on either side of her rear tire. She had a helmet tightly strapped to her head, her habit beneath it, flowing down her back. And she also wore a neon orange mesh vest like you see guys wear when they work on road crews.

I wish I would have had my camera out, because it would've made a great photo. I wanted to run after her and ask her how often she comes out to enjoy the trail...but I'm kinda slow, kinda fat and kinda old. And she was on a bike, you know. So I conserved my energy and recorded the image in my mental filing drawer instead.

An older couple walked on the beach along the water's edge with their dog that was carrying what looked to be an old rag doll in its mouth.

A short time later, another woman came walking with her dog. This dog had a ball that it couldn't seem to keep in its mouth, or maybe it just didn't want to, as it was more concerned with digging its front paws in the sand or splashing in the water than playing fetch.

One woman came by carrying two pieces of driftwood that she picked up along the beach. I didn't know her, and my bench was too far away from the water's edge for me to call down and ask, but...I'm assuming she had a collection, and those were her two latest additions.

I sat and read a few chapters from Anne Lamott's Plan B: Further Thoughts On Faith, and when I looked up to concentrate on the lake, I was able to drown out the noise from the traffic on the busy road behind me, and hear only the waves lapping against the shore.

This made me feel a little more Zen than I normally do.

Once when I looked up from my book, I noticed a dot on the horizon, and knew it was much bigger than a sailboat. And soon I got to witness the familiar sight of the Badger carferry moving tortoise-like toward the finish line of the Manitowoc port on its journey from Ludington, Michigan.

After absorbing all the sights and sounds and spending equal amounts of time reading and people-watching, I grabbed a notebook and a pen, and wrote this blog entry, grateful to Carolyn and Richard for providing me with such a spectacular front-row seat.

A more enriching way to spend a couple hours than in an auto garage's waiting area, don't you think?

I should have my tires replaced a couple times a month.

"I'm an old-fashioned guy...
I want to be an old man
with a beer belly sitting on
a porch, looking at a lake
or something."
—Johnny Depp


  1. Good weather, great view, bench, happy dog, nun with road crew vest on...NICE!!! The only thing you were missing was a 40 wrapped in a brown paper bag.

    Now of course there's only one song i can go to with the way your post ended...

    I wanted to go traveling to Michigan and more
    I set out from Wisconsin, and drove around da shore
    I had to drive tru Illinois and Indiana too
    Da traffic it was terrible and irritating too
    It was a twelve-hour drive...a twelve-hour drive

    But den somebody told me about a car ferry you could take
    Dey said that it was wonderful and sailed across da lake
    From Manitowoc to Luddington dey said it won't take long
    Mr. Conrad made it possible for us to sing dis song...for us to sing dis song

    Take your car, take your kids, take your mudder, take your brudder
    Take a cruise, you can't lose on da Badger
    She's got everyting you need, satisfaction guaranteed
    It's complete, life is sweet, on da Badger
    Food and cocktails are real cheap, and da water ain't dat deep
    Trow your troubles on a heap dey just won't matter
    You'll be sorry when it's done, 'cause you're havin' so much fun
    When you go across da lake on da Badger

    HEY ! !

  2. Now it's time to study up on your fancy-schmancy new camera and take some proper sunrise on Lake Michigan shots!

    (Then you can ride the ferry to the other side of the lake and take pics of the sunset too, right? ;)

  3. I'm so jealous - sounds like a fabulous day!! I absolutely LOVE the Great Lakes - as a kid, I spent many hours looking out over Lake Superior in Michigan. Thanks for taking me back to those times - I felt like I was right there.

  4. Yes! Great post.

    A nun? Are you serious?

    Fabulous day. Go again and tell us what else you see.

  5. TheKid...I think you have access to more song lyric databases than anyone I know.

    Happy Schnapps is playing in Whitelaw this Saturday, ya know dare hey!

    Mrs. White...The sunrise shots I can handle, but you had to go and throw in that word "proper," didn't you? I'm learning as fast as I can, and I still have too many strange f-stop and shutter speed numbers floating around in my head!

    I did find the "On" switch, though...and remembered to take the lens cap off.

    Oh wait...aren't sunrise shots usually taken pretty early in the morning? Like...around sunrise? Eeesh. I'll go find a swell sunset instead.

    (truth be told, I can't wait to get some great sunrise and sunset shots. love 'em, love 'em, love 'em.)

    Rebecca...I think those of us who grew up right near the lake can so easily take it for granted. I try to not be one of those people.

    SBW...Yep, a nun. I might have been able to make up part of it, because I've seen nuns with bike helmets on bikes before. But I would have never thought to add the neon vest. Or the sidebags.

    I'll definitely go again, and I'll definitely have a notebook. Because after staring for a while, and people-watching for a while, it's a place that just begs you to sit and write.